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Stressors for Gay Men and Lesbians: Life Stress, Gay-Related Stress, Stigma Consciousness, and Depressive Symptoms

Gay-related stress occurs when gay men and lesbians must deal with stressors that are unique to their sexual orientation. This research examined the relationship of gay-related stress and life events to depressive symptoms. Other potential predictors of depressive symptoms were also considered (internalized homophobia, stigma consciousness, and openness about sexual orientation). A sample of 204 (110 men, and 91 women, three sex-unspecified) gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals completed a packet of self-report measures. The importance of the construct of gay-related stress was demonstrated by explaining independent variance in depressive symptoms compared to variance explained by life stress. Those who reported more severe life stress and more severe gay-related stress also reported more depressive symptoms. Also, gay-related stress and stigma consciousness were independent predictors of depressive symptoms. Those with more severe gay-related stress and more stigma consciousness reported more depressive symptoms. Our results suggest that the constuct of gay-related stress is important to understanding the experiences of gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals.

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